The juvenile court is organized to protect and rehabilitate minors under the age of 18 years old. The court does not focus on punishing offenders for committing a crime as the adult criminal court does. However, some minors can be in the juvenile court system regardless of whether they committed a crime or not.
What Is a Juvenile Non-Offender?
A juvenile non-offender is a minor subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court system. The non-offender denotes the fact that the minor did not commit a crime.
What Is a Juvenile Offender?
A juvenile offender is a minor who commits a crime. The criminal act is usually a misdemeanor, such as:
- Graffiti charges
- Underage drinking violations
- Simple assault
- Petty theft charges
If a minor commits a more serious crime, such as grand theft auto or murder, they may be tried as an adult in a traditional criminal court instead of a juvenile court.
How Does a Minor Become a Juvenile Non-Offender?
Typically, minors become part of the juvenile justice system as a non-offender when they:
- Are overly late to or absent from school
- Parent is suspected of child abuse
- Parent is involved in a domestic violence case
This behavior of a minor is often the result of:
- Neglect status
This leads to the necessity of intervention by the court system. Often, the juvenile court system is the one to get involved as it is specially designed to deal with children and teens.
What Is Child Neglect?
Child neglect is a type of child abuse where a custodian, parent, or guardian of a minor fails to provide basic physical and emotional needs.
Will My Case Be Heard in Juvenile Court If I Am a Juvenile Non-Offender?
Even if a juvenile is a non-offender, their case will still be formally heard in court. The minor’s case in this situation is considered a juvenile dependency case.
What Is a Juvenile Dependency Case?
A juvenile dependency case is heard to decide whether a minor should be removed from the primary home. The minor is not punished. The focus is on the parent. The parent may:
- Receive jail time
- Termination of parental rights
- Community service
Do I Need a Lawyer If My Child Is a Juvenile Non-Offender?
Even if your child is considered to be a non-offender, their future, as well as your parental rights, is still at stake during a juvenile court proceeding. Thus, it is in your best interest to contact a family lawyer to find out more about defending yourself or helping your child.